Blockbuster Season Review Talking Movies


Blockbuster Season Review

In a special edition, Talking Movies reports on Hollywood's summer blockbuster season, looking at films such as Wonder Woman which may have changed the movie landscape forever.


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Transcript


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Hello, and welcome to Talking Movies. I am Tom Brook. In today's

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programme, as people here in New York gathered to watch a movie

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outdoors, we report on America's blockbuster season, as the finish

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line approaches. What were the successes? Wonder woman, Guardians

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of the Galaxy volume two, and Spider-Man homecoming must count

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among them, but with so many uninspiring sequels there was a lot

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of franchise fatigue. It seems like lately that is the only thing that

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is coming out, and I want to see more creative content. And among the

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summer movies inspired by real events, Detroit, a report on the

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debate it revived over who was really qualified to tell black

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stories. Directors from other races don't know how to properly showcase

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like men and women living full lives. Then this summer's sleeper

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hits at the American box office. We look at one film that really broke

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new ground. As well as the sleeper hits of yesteryear. All that and

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more in this special blockbuster season review edition of talking

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movies. The big story at the American box office this summer was

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wonder woman, the first superhero blockbuster to be directed by a

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woman and make more money than any other summer film. Before we delve

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deeper into the picture, let's cast our minds back to Wonder Woman, with

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this review from BBC culture film critic Karen James. She is an

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anti-war feminist. She deflects bullets with her bracelets. She has

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a sword tucked into the back of her evening down. All that, and she is

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the superheroine of a thoroughly entertaining action movie. She is a

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princess named Diana, raised on an island off Amazon Warriors. When a

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plane crash as she reinvents the Princess Meth, rescuing her Prince

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Charming, an American intelligence officer played by Chris Pyne. Gal

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Gadot is terrific as Diana, charismatic and fierce. She and Pine

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bring a lot of deadpan wit to their romance. But what really sets this

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Wonder Woman apart from other superheroes is the sense of idealism

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and wonder Gal Gadot brings to the role. Whether her action sequences

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are set in the trenches of World War I or a bomb factory, they are crisp

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and lucid, dynamic, such a relief from the dark model of so many

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superhero movies. Why has Wonder Woman been such a big success, and

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will it leave a lasting impact on the movie landscape? To find out I

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sought the opinion of buzz feed film news critic Alison Willmore. Well,

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it was the first hugely successful female superhero movie. They have

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been ones in the past, attempts like Catwoman and Electra. But this was

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the first one to be an unqualified financial success. It has been

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proof, if proof is required, that a female lead superhero movie can have

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mass appeal. Many women reported having quite an emotional response

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when they watched Wonder Woman. What did the film give them that perhaps

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other films had not given them? I think that what wonder woman has

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given audiences, particularly female audiences, is this representation of

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themselves on screen. To be able to see this character kind of step onto

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a battlefield in the best seen in the movie, and commit herself to

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this act of kind of unqualified heroism. And there is something that

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is very moving about seeing a female character be put in the spotlight

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like that, in a genre that we have gotten very familiar with. So I

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think that there is certainly this feeling of a boundary being crossed.

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How instrumental was Patty Jenkins, the director of Wonder Woman, to its

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success? One of the things that is really refreshing about this movie

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is not just that it is so grounded in a female character and female

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experience, but that it looks at her without having to kind of, like,

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filter her through a Mail perspective, or filter her through

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the experiences of her love interest, played by Chris Pyne. So I

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think that that is something that you really sense with having a

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female director behind the camera. How can a woman fight in this? Many

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Hollywood executives used to say that men would not go to a superhero

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movie if there was a female protagonists. But they have been

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proved wrong with Wonder Woman, haven't they? You always see that

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female lead movies and movies with actors of colour, there is this

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burden on them, that they have to prove every time that these

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properties are viable, that they are not niche. There is a lot of

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pressure put on movies like this, that you are proof of a basic

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concept, not just the film succeeding in its own right. So I

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was really excited to see the success of Wonder Woman, and I am

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really interested to see where that leads, but I always think about

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something like Writes mates, which was a film which was supposed to

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usher in a new era of female lead superhero films, and it didn't

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really. Hollywood has been taught many lessons before about this, and

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it never seems to stick. What will be the lasting impact of Wonder

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Woman? There is going to be a sequel, but will it increase

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opportunities for women in the film business across the board, do you

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think I think that Wonder Woman is a big lesson. I just hope it is one

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that studios take, both in terms of its director and in terms of its

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main character. I think that just continued pressure from fans to say

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that this is important to them, as important as seeing as female

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superhero in front of the camera, I think that is what would make sure

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that that continues to happen. This summer at the box office there were

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several films inspired by real events, and director Christopher

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Nolan's Dunkirk and Al Gore's documentary on climate change. Then

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there was Detroit, a film based on the 1967 Detroit riots, directed by

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Catherine Bigelow. It sparked a fair bit of debate which is still

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ongoing. In Detroit, a city at war, violence continues. What is a black

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film? Is it possible for white filmmakers in Hollywood to

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adequately tell stories from a black respective? The film Detroit, set in

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Detroit, Michigan, and directed by a Kathryn Bigelow, has reignited this

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debate. The film depicts the Algiers motel incident where the cops during

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the riot thought there was a sniper in the motel, and they went and

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lined a bunch of people up against the wall, and kept them there for

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hours, and terrorise them. And by the time the incident was over,

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three African-Americans were dead. I got all night, people. The

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centrepiece of the movie is the 45 minute long motel sequence. Some

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have said that this is the most powerful part of the film, as it

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gives a window into the nature of police brutality, which is still

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present to this day. Others have said it is a nearly pornographic

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lynching sequence, and has little value. Let's not be stupid in this

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situation. The film was put together by a white director, Kathryn

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Bigelow, and a white writer, Mark Boal. So it didn't feature any black

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creators on the production team. I think the issue of who made this

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film and whether it should have been black filmmakers is on the one hand

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an important one to discuss, and to the extent that we need more

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talented people who are African-Americans behind the camera.

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On the other hand, it is a very dicey issue, and I think a very

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slippery slope, when you have some people saying that a film of this

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subject should not be made by white filmmakers. It seems like freedom of

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expression means, to me, that people should be able to make works of art

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about people of different races. It is a war zone out there. While there

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has been a backlash about the race of the creative team behind Detroit,

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white American film makers producing what may be considered black films

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is not uncommon. One of the most notable examples is Steven

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Spielberg's 1985 film the Colour Purple, adapted from Alice Walker's

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novel, and is accepted as a black film. However, there are those who

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upset that white filmmakers seem fixated on the oppression and

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struggle of black people. I think sometimes directors from other races

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don't know how to properly showcase black men and women living full

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lives, outside of the racism and trauma that we endure. Can a white

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director properly do that correctly? I don't doubt it. But it seems as if

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Hollywood only knows us for a few things, and trauma and endurance is

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one of them. Kathryn Bigelow and Anthony Mackie, who appears in the

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film, both agree that the goal of the project was to start a

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conversation. This film is a lot of black tragedy, and I don't know if

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African-Americans, people of colour, need to see any more tragedy in

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order for us to have a conversation about the very undeniable, systemic

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racism that has built this country. Although Detroit has not performed

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as well as expect that the box office this summer, it did cause

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controversy about representation in film. There is no guarantee that the

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movie would have been more successful if they were black

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filmmakers behind the camera, but one could speculate that much more

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of a conversation about the film would be focused on the quality of

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the filmmaking, and the message it attempts to convey. Now, let's move

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on to some of the other summer films. One sad reality is just how

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bad they were. The fact reflect that in seasonal box office revenues,

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which were several percentage points down on last year. The big problem,

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Fran fatigue. More and more sequels underperforming. For we investigate

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franchise fatigue further, let's look at one franchise sequel which

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it is generally agreed worked well. Spider-Man Homecoming. The people

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behind Spider-Man Homecoming have remembered something that makers of

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almost every other recent superhero film have forgotten, that if you are

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going to tell a story about someone in a colourful costume who can throw

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bad guys around like they are frisbees, then it should probably be

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fun for all the family. So never mind all the mass destruction and

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cosmic Doomsday Device is that we usually get. This is a warm, fast

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paced, coming-of-age comedy about a group of teenagers, one of whom

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happens to have been bitten by radioactive arachnid. Spider-Man has

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to struggle with the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton, who clears up all

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the debris after the avengers' city wrecking battles. He built himself a

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gigantic and surprisingly sinister set of robotic wings and goes into

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the super villain business. The fact he is a savage killer but also an

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ordinary, downtrodden working man, makes him one of the best baddies in

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the Marvel rogues gallery. The only problem is that there is too much in

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a two and a quarter hour film. It has too many characters and too many

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action set pieces, none of which is as spectacular in the equivalent Sam

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Remy films. Like its eager young protagonists, Spider-Man: Homecoming

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tries a bit too hard and it sometimes stumbles. Well, what did

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Spider-Man get right that enabled it to satisfy audiences, while other

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franchise films fell short as Mac to investigate franchise fatigue, we

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put together our own panel. Spiderman: Homecoming plays well

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because it almost plays like a John Hughes comedy. Tom is almost of high

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school age, so we really can capture teenage Peter Piper. Others were

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pushing in their 30s and couldn't quite capture the same thing. It is

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a wonderfully diverse cast and there are even some political points to

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it. The actor who plays MJ has this wonderful moment when they are on a

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school trip to Washington, DC and about to visit Washington monument

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and she says, I don't want to go there because it was built by

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slaves. It's like, this is a movie by Disney. They didn't have to put

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that line in there. I think it's important to point out that while

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Spiderman: Homecoming has done well, it's also as of now considered the

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lowest grossing Spiderman movie out of all of them. So even though that

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movie was a hit, there's still franchise fatigue. But the thing

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that's drawing people into movies that are doing well, like Wonder

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Woman, Spider Man, I think the Washington monument thing was a bit

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too easy. At the same time, seeing these movies that tend to appeal

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even more to people who are typically underrepresented, all of

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that is contributing. I think you are right. With The Mummy, this

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isn't a franchise yet but all of the press has been that they are

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starting a franchise and you can fill the audience being like, gosh,

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another one? It's going to be just drawing from Unviersal's classic

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horror movie characters - Frankenstein, Dracula, doctor Jack

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all. I don't think anyone is asking for that. It was one of the original

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franchises. That was the thing back in the 20s, 30s and 40s. But, yeah,

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we already saw the Brendan Fraser versions. I wonder if The Rock was

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in this one it might have been better. I think we all agree

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franchise fatigue is a problem. I went to the local cinema and asked

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some people what they thought. What do you think about the fact that

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there are so many franchises and C calls at the moment? I think it's a

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little bit lazy. It seems like lately that's the only thing coming

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out and I want to see more creative content. Things like Girls Trip. If

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you are in charge of Hollywood what change would you make to make block

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asked is better? Make it so that women feel more interactive and

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maybe racial diversity within a block afters. That might widen the

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SPAM. You think people have franchise fatigue? I think

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mainstream America does not, but those who actually appreciate cinema

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and what the movies are all used to be, definitively yes. Has there been

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any blockbuster this is that has delivered for you? No. There just

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isn't really a lot of enthusiasm there. That's the thing. Even with

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us talking about Spider-Man: Homecoming, we all said we liked it

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but none of us would say we loved it. Going into this year, I was

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really getting tired of the Marvel cinematic universe. I think maybe

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some of these block asked is art to male centric. If you look at the top

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grossing films of the year, Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, but not

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many in this season. Hollywood is also very slow on the up take. They

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did an ounce Wonder Woman sequel, so we will see about that. I think A

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Wrinkle in Time will be a big deal. We have big actors. Oprah, and

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others that black women will support. Do you think Hollywood will

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change course or are we going to see Transformers movies until the end of

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time? I don't think anything in Hollywood is ever truly dead. We are

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in a circle now where it might take five years or a decade. I think with

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Spider Man it only took three years. So long as they are familiar

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properties and familiar to a modern audience, we are still going to get

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these. I love that basically you are saying that the plot of The Mummy is

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a metaphor for Hollywood. No matter how did it may seem, anything can

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come back to life at some point. Hollywood loves familiarity, no

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question about it. America in summertime almost always have a hit

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and this year the one that can claim that title is The Big Sick. It is

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the first romantic comedy to have a Muslim man as a leading man. It

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breaks new ground. I think dating this girl. She is white. It is based

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on a true Romance of the Pakistani actor and writer and comedian and

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follows his courtship with his future wife, his parents' efforts to

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force him into an arranged marriage with other women and his wife to

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be's grave illness. It is cowritten by him and his real-life wife. It is

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a blend of cross-cultural interaction. I've always wanted to

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have a conversation with... You've never spoken to people about 9-11?

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He is like the lead in any other romantic comedy, that it aims to

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destigmatise Muslim Americans in the eyes of the public. That would be

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ideal and great records Muslims need to be immortalised. I feel like

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we've taken a bunch of steps back. So that would be a great, happy

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side-effect of our movie. After years of negative media portrayals

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of Muslims in cinema, there seems to be an evolution in the presentation.

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The on-screen image of Muslims in entertainment is changing. This film

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is playing a role. What has been lacking is nuance. Only one time of

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Muslim is represented in the media. For a long time it was only one

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type. The terrorist, the bad guy. The Big Sick represents the nuance

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that already existing the country and by seeing that on the big screen

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it's going to have a tremendous effect on the way we view ourselves

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as a nation. I screwed up with your daughter. Yeah, you did. The Big

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Sick is one of this summer's sleeper hits, but what about years past?

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We've been looking back at some of the sleeper surprises that have

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emerged over the decades. The summer block us to roll out

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every year is pretty standard. Audiences are bombarded with

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promotional trailers, teachers and merchandise to promote the budget

:20:49.:20:52.

larger-than-life movies, specifically reserved for a

:20:53.:20:55.

summertime release. But not for this type of movie. Sleeper hit is a

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movie that opens quietly. It doesn't come in with a lot of publicity,

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with a lot of buzz. It often doesn't have huge stars in it. And it gained

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its popularity slowly, but steadily, and it just grows and grows and

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stays in theatres for a long time. Sometimes it's a very little movie,

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like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which a lot of people remember. Everyone

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loved it and it stayed for a long time. But there are movies that

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people just loved and went to see and continued to go and see and over

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a period of time built up this myth about them. Are there any

:21:41.:21:45.

similarities between movies that become sleeper hits? One thing that

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always helps sleeper hits is if it serves an audience that's really not

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being served by most of the movies out there. Mamma Mia had money

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behind it. That was a Broadway musical. But they opened its

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opposite The Dark Knight and people thought, this movie is going to get

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killed. But it was just that all of the people who didn't want to see

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The Dark Knight and wanted to see a movie about all the women who wanted

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to see a musical, something comical, it really appealed to them. And over

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the years, some of the sleeper hits have really appeal to audiences and

:22:29.:22:33.

stayed in our hearts. Some critics think that the most successful

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sleeper hits just have heart. It feels like it's one person's story,

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one person's vision, whether that's the director or writer. You can feel

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their personality in The Sixth Sense, the author's personality on

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the screen in The Big Sick. Fast Times had a real persona, a human

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touch. Even when these movies tend to be more slick and professional,

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you feel something come through on the screen, sought from behind the

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screen. Through the screen to you. Well, that's it. If you enjoy those

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short reviews from BBC Culture earlier in the programme, you can

:23:29.:23:32.

find more on the BBC website. There are reviews of The Dark Tower and

:23:33.:23:41.

Detroit. From me and the rest of the Talking Movies production team,

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goodbye. We leave you with a music sequence from Baby Driver, and other

:23:46.:23:48.

superhit that emerged during blockbuster season. -- another.

:23:49.:24:37.

We're looking ahead to the weekend weather prospects.

:24:38.:24:41.

Let's delve into the weather menu and see what's on offer.

:24:42.:24:48.

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